Tag Archives: Major Bob Music

Music Publishing Isn’t About Just Pitching Songs

Music publishing isn’t just about slinging songs all over town.  It isn’t just about finding great songs and pitching those songs until they get cut.  If publishing was ever about that, it certainly isn’t anymore.

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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When I first moved to Nashville from Arkansas in 2002, my understanding of music publishing was that they sign songs and songwriters, pitch those songs, get cuts, and collect and pass along royalties.  I was excited about the possibility that a publisher might hook me up with some other songwriters, pay for my demos and provide a place where I could write.  And I felt blessed when all that finally started to happen.

But it wasn’t enough.  The business model was changing.

That first publishing deal WAS a blessing.  The guys at Major Bob took a chance on signing a young songwriter.  I’m really thankful for them.  I was learning to write better and better songs.  And the guys at Major Bob hooked me up with some good cowriters.  And they would give me some feedback.  But at the end of the day…

I spent a lot of time trying to create great songs, but not enough time trying to create great opportunities.

Heck, I was a newbie.  I had moved to Nashville to write songs, and that’s what I was finally getting to do.  And I was LOVING it.  But while I basically understood how the music business works (royalties, publishing, licensing, etc.), I didn’t understand how the RELATIONSHIP business worked.  Not really.  And it cost me.

It’s great that I was working to create great songs.  But I should’ve been wiser about creating great relationships at labels, with other publishers, producers, and artists.

(Maybe Major Bob was working hard on that for me – but my songs just weren’t good enough to open those doors.  But in either case, I myself wasn’t focused on it enough.)

The smart publishers these days are focused on creating great opportunities for their writers.  That’s why so many publishers sign writer/artists and writer/producers these days.  Those MIGHT become in-house opportunities for cuts and cowriters.  Publishers are partnering with labels (and labels are starting publishing companies).  Publishers are also actively working to get their writers in the room with producers and artists.

Heck, Ole’ Music even has a tour bus that will take their writers on the road to write with artists.  They’re serious about creating opportunities for their writers.

All this is in an effort to put their staffwriters in a position to win with a great song.  (Yes, publishers still do the traditional “find a great songwriter and pitch their best songs” thing.  That model just isn’t having as much success anymore, so they’re having to be more aggressive in creating opportunities.)

But what if you don’t have a publisher?

Well, you’re not off the hook.  If you want cuts and hits, you need to focus on creating BOTH great music AND great opportunities.  Don’t expect a publisher to come riding in on a white horse and save the day.  Get started now.  Start identifying potential opportunities- now.  Start forging relationships- now.

After all, if you don’t HAVE a publisher, you ARE your publisher!

If you’re ready to learn more about how publishing works – or if you’re ready to start making your own relationships with music publishers, I have a great first step for you.

I’m hosting an online “Know The Row” event in July with Senior Creative Director of Daywind Music, Chad Green.  This is YOUR chance to connect with a music publisher and to ask him YOUR questions.  With it being online, you can join us from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.  If you want details, just CLICK HERE.  Tickets are on sale now, and space is limited!

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

SWP 4

How One Relationship Can Open Doors All Over The Music Biz

The music business is a relationship business. Yes, it takes great music. But it also takes great relationships. And it’s amazing how just ONE relationship can open up MANY doors of opportunity.

One believer- one champion- can change your career.

____________________

To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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I’m friends with Chad Green. I’ve been thinking a lot about Chad lately because I have a “Know The Row” event coming up with him next month. He’s currently the Senior Creative Director at Daywind Music Publishing.

But back in 2004, Chad was a membership representative with ASCAP, my Performing Rights Organization, or PRO.

In our first meeting, he picked up the phone and called Major Bob Music for me. I’d dropped off a comp for them and never heard anything back. This time, after Chad’s call, they listened. That call led to a meeting and eventually led to my first publishing deal.  Thanks, Chad.

Chad also invited me to join ASCAP’s Country Workshop, where I met hit songwriter Byron Hill. Byron’s written “Fool Hearted Memory” for George Strait, “Politics Religion And More” for Sammy Kershaw, “Born Country” for Alabama and more. Byron and I eventually started writing together, and that has led to a few cuts, including “When Your Lips Are So Close,” a #1 Canadian country single and 2014 CCMA Single Of The Year for Gord Bamford. Thanks, Chad.

After Chad left ASCAP, he was Creative Director for Word Music Publishing. He called me up about some cowrites. That’s when I met Brian Hitt and Jay Speight. Together, we’ve had a song called “God Amazing” cut by Charles Billingsley in the Christian market. We also landed a few songs on a Christian children’s album called “K-Tunez Praise.” Side note- it’s fun when I hear my kids spinning that album in their room. Thanks, Chad.

Now Chad is Senior Creative Director at Daywind Music Publishing. So far, he’s introduced me to one of my favorite cowriters, a guy named Jason Wilkes. And Chad is currently working on getting me in the room with a successful country artist for an upcoming project on Daywind. I can’t say who the artist is, but I have a few of his country records, and I’m super pumped for the opportunity.

One industry contact has turned into a friendship and – over time – has led to a lot of good things.  And that’s the lesson for YOU SongPros out there.

Relationships matter. Relationships open doors.

And it’s a two-way street. Chad calls me 1) because we’re friends and 2) he believes in my songwriting chops. He’s not going to bring me in with one of his writers or one of his artists if he thinks I’m going to blow it. After all, he has his own family to feed. He has his own professional reputation to consider.

I’ve made it easy for him to open those doors for me by 1) being a writer he respects and 2) being a friend.

Another lesson: people don’t stay in the same jobs forever. Chad was an ASCAP rep. At that job, he was able to hook me up with a publisher. Later, at a publishing company, he was able to hook me up with cowrites. Now, he also has contacts with a label, and he’s working on hooking me up with an artist.

Think long-term.

They say to make friends BEFORE you need them. I hope you’ll be mindful of making long-term contacts in the music business. And it all starts with a first step.

I have a great first step for you. If you’d like a chance to hang out with Chad Green yourself, we’re doing an online Know The Row event in July.  With it being online, you can join us from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.  If you want details, just CLICK HERE.  Tickets are on sale now!

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

SWP 4

It Takes A Lot Of Songwriting Swings To Get A Hit

Don’t give up on your song if the first publisher doesn’t love it. And don’t give up on that publisher if they don’t love your first song. You usually have to swing the bat a lot of times to get a hit. Here are a few of my stories that prove that.

____________________

To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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I hope these stories from my songwriting journey inspire you on YOUR journey.  And there are some lessons in this we’ll get to at the end.

*Back before I had any success as a songwriter, I cold-called Major Bob Music, a publisher. They said I could drop off a comp (a comp is a few songs on a CD). I never heard back from them. Months later, a mutual contact in the industry, Chad Green, recommended me to them. We eventually sign my first publishing deal.

*My first meeting at ASCAP was with Mike Doyle. He saw potential in a couple of songs, but he probably forgot about me the minute I walked out of his office. About five years later, he’s my songplugger at Major Bob.

*Years later, a different publisher didn’t believe in my song, “Crickets” enough to demo it. My cowriters did a guitar/vocal, anyway. I pitched it to Joe Nichols’ label. They passed. More pitches. Eventually, it got put on hold for Easton Corbin. Didn’t get cut. Joe Nichols got a new record label. Pitch. Cut. Title track to his album, “Crickets.”

*I had a song idea and lyric called, “Monday Morning Church.” This was back in Little Rock, Arkansas. I showed it to (at the time) my main cowriter. He never did anything with it. I showed it to another potential cowriter. Nothing happened. Then I met Erin Enderlin. She loved it. We wrote it, and Alan Jackson made “Monday Morning Church” a top five hit.

What does this mean for you?

It means you shouldn’t give up!

What if I had given up on “Monday Morning Church” because the first few potential cowriters passed on it? What if I’d given up on “Crickets” because my publisher didn’t love it? What if I had given up on Major Bob Music because they apparently didn’t love the songs I dropped off or because one of their songpluggers didn’t do backflips over me five years earlier?

Nobody will believe in you or your music… until they finally do.

I’ve heard stories of producers who had to hear a song 3, 4 or 5 times on separate occasions before they finally “got it” and cut it. What if those writers had given up after only one try?

The people who succeed in the music business are the ones who don’t give up. I know the feeling. I know it’s frustrating. You write a song that you really believe in… and the first publisher you play it for skips to the next song halfway through the chorus without any comments. Or you finally get that first publisher meeting- and they say you need to “dig deeper.”

It hurts.

But if you want to be a pro, you have to act like a pro. And pros will take an honest look at themselves and their writing. Then they’ll get out the guitars and write another song. Then demo another song. Then pitch another song. Then call another publisher. Eventually, they’ll call the same publisher back. Or they’ll pitch that same song again. Why? Because…

Pros know that their songs probably won’t be “the right song at the right time” the first time.

We also know WE probably won’t be the right songwriter at the right time the first time, either. I sure wasn’t the right songwriter the first time I met Mike at ASCAP. But I WAS the right songwriter at the right time a few years later at Major Bob.

You’ll never hit home runs if you don’t keep swinging the bat.

So, what about you? Is there a song you believe in that’s been passed over? Maybe it’s time someone hears it again. Maybe you’ve been passed over as a writer. Maybe it’s time to put yourself out there again.

Let me help.

I’m hosting Songwriting Pro’s Play For A Publisher event next month. Now that I’ve done a few of these, I’ve seen some cool stuff happen. I’ve seen a songwriter who didn’t make it to one Play For A Publisher – make it to the next. I’ve seen the same song NOT make it to one Play For A Publisher, then make it to the next.

Maybe THIS time is the right time for you. CLICK HERE to learn more, submit your song, and take another swing.

Tim Hunze is coming back to do another Play For A Publisher event in June!  He’s a successful publisher with Parallel Music in Nashville, Tennessee.  Tickets are on sale now, and space is limited.  CLICK HERE to check out all the details and submit YOUR song for Tim!

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

SWP 4

You’ll Probably Regret Not Bringing This To Your Next Cowrite

This is an encore edition of a recent blog post.  I’m re-releasing it for two reasons: 1) it’s a really important topic and 2) I have a great opportunity for you at the end of it.  Thanks! -Brent

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Let me tell you a tale of two cowrites, both from my early “pro” days. First… the bad cowrite.

I was signed with Major Bob Music at the time, and “Monday Morning Church” had recently been a top 5 country hit for Alan Jackson.  But in spite of having a publishing deal and a hit under my belt, I was still pretty much a newbie trying to figure things out.  (I still feel that way to be honest.)  Anyway, Major Bob hooked me up to cowrite with a legit hit songwriter.  This guy had many cuts and hits to his credit, and I was honored to get in a room with him.

We met at his publishing company on Music Row.  After a little chit chat, he got that familiar look on his face.

“So… got any ideas?”  No.  Not really.

I mean, I had a bunch of hooks and some ideas, but nothing great.  Nothing I was busting a gut to write.  And I apparently didn’t have anything that impressed him, either.  After I threw out several “shoulder-shruggers,” he said, “Man, we need an idea like ‘Monday Morning Church.'”  Too bad.  I must have left my stack of “Monday Morning Church” ideas at home that morning.

We chatted some more, eventually moving out to the porch where he smoked a cigarette and I watched my hopes of making a good impression going up in smoke.  We called it a day.  I call it a failure of preparation on my part.  We’ve never written again.  For me, I was embarrassed and in no hurry to risk wasting his time again.

Now for the good cowrite.

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I met Byron Hill at Chad Green’s ASCAP Country Workshop.  And, if I remember correctly, Carla Wallace at Big Yellow Dog Music also helped connect us.  We got a cowrite on the books, and I was pumped.  Byron has written a bunch of hits including, “Fool Hearted Memory” for George Strait, “Born Country” for Alabama, “Politics Religion & Her” for Sammy Kershaw and many, many more.

I did my homework.  I pulled together several ideas and lyrics that I thought he’d like.  I really wanted to make a good impression on him. When Byron asked, “So… got any ideas?” I was ready.  He loved a lyric sketch I brought in called, “Ring On The Bar,” and we were off to the races.

This first cowrite led to some success and more opportunity.  While “Ring On The Bar” hasn’t been a big hit yet, it’s been recorded by John Pierce (RCA), James Dupre’ (The Voice), and has been on hold by several artists, including Brad Paisley.

But the big thing is that Byron and I went on to write several more songs together, including the 2014 Canadian Country Music Awards Single Of The Year (and my first #1) “When Your Lips Are So Close” with Gord Bamford.

Good thing I showed up with a good idea on that first day, huh?

And that brings me to the point of these two stories.  I believe that a strong idea is the most valuable thing you can bring to a cowrite (other than Kris Kristofferson).  “Well,” you might say, “how come these big-time songwriters didn’t throw out any of THEIR ideas?”  Here’s why:

A great idea is really the only thing a newer songwriter has to offer a seasoned pro.

Let’s face it, if you get to write with an established pro songwriter, what do THEY need from YOU?

new songwriter offer pro

They have a more valuable name in the business.  They have more connections.  They most likely bring a higher level of songwriting skill.  The only thing they need is a fresh, cool idea or melody.  Unless you’re swinging around a big fat record deal, your job is to bring in the idea or the start of a song.

If the pro has a great idea, he surely has several proven, established cowriters who could write it with him.  Why risk giving 50% of HIS idea to a songwriter who might not contribute very much?

Let me tell you, it’s more fun (and profitable) when you have a strong answer for “got any ideas?” – and I want you to be prepared when that question comes your way.  And that question doesn’t need a good answer ONLY if you get a pro cowrite.  That question comes up in EVERY cowrite.  Every time you step into the writing room, you have the opportunity to blow away your cowriter with a great nugget or idea.

Feeling like I have a stack of strong ideas allows me to walk into any cowrite with confidence.  We might not always write my idea, but I came prepared… and my cowriter knows it and appreciates it.

I want YOU to have that confidence – and those results, too.  I want your cowriters to be glad they showed up to write with you.  But I DON’T want you to have to go through years of trial, error and the occasional embarrassing cowrite like I did!  That’s why I dive deeply into the topic in my upcoming web-workshop series in August called “Song Ideas: From Blank Page To Finished Lyric.”

Blank 2 Finished

This course is designed to take you from a blank page to a new song idea to a fully developed concept to a finished lyric. You’ll learn a repeatable process you can use to discover and develop strong song ideas again and again. And you’ll also learn how to frame and focus those ideas for maximum commercial impact and appeal.

This course is INTERACTIVE! You won’t sit back and just stare at me talking for an hour-and-a-half. You won’t be some number on my dashboard. No. We’ll be face-to-face. You’ll have exercises to practice outside of our sessions. I’ll ask you questions. You can ask me questions. We’re in this thing together. That’s why I keep the workshops small- I want to get to know YOU!

Tickets for this event are on sale NOW. There are only 11 spots open, and I expect them to go fast- so don’t wait too long and miss your chance to take your songwriting to the next level!

I look forward to seeing you in August- CLICK HERE or on the image below to learn more and reserve your spot now!

Blank 2 Finished

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

SWP 4

The Most Valuable Thing You Can Bring To A Cowrite

Man vs. PRO

Let me tell you a tale of two cowrites, both from my early “pro” days. First… the bad cowrite.

I was signed with Major Bob Music at the time, and “Monday Morning Church” had recently been a top 5 country hit for Alan Jackson.  But in spite of having a publishing deal and a hit under my belt, I was still pretty much a newbie trying to figure things out.  (I still feel that way to be honest.)  Anyway, Major Bob hooked me up to cowrite with a legit hit songwriter.  This guy had many cuts and hits to his credit, and I was honored to get in a room with him.

We met at his publishing company on Music Row.  After a little chit chat, he got that familiar look on his face.

“So… got any ideas?”  No.  Not really.

I mean, I had a bunch of hooks and some ideas, but nothing great.  Nothing I was busting a gut to write.  And I apparently didn’t have anything that impressed him, either.  After I threw out several “shoulder-shruggers,” he said, “Man, we need an idea like ‘Monday Morning Church.'”  Too bad.  I must have left my stack of “Monday Morning Church” ideas at home that morning.

We chatted some more, eventually moving out to the porch where he smoked a cigarette and I watched my hopes of making a good impression going up in smoke.  We called it a day.  I call it a failure of preparation on my part.  We’ve never written again.  For me, I was embarrassed and in no hurry to risk wasting his time again.

Now for the good cowrite.

cropped-SWP-2.jpg

I met Byron Hill at Chad Green’s ASCAP Country Workshop.  And, if I remember correctly, Carla Wallace at Big Yellow Dog Music also helped connect us.  We got a cowrite on the books, and I was pumped.  Byron has written a bunch of hits including, “Fool Hearted Memory” for George Strait, “Born Country” for Alabama, “Politics Religion & Her” for Sammy Kershaw and many, many more.

I did my homework.  I pulled together several ideas and lyrics that I thought he’d like.  I really wanted to make a good impression on him. When Byron asked, “So… got any ideas?” I was ready.  He loved a lyric sketch I brought in called, “Ring On The Bar,” and we were off to the races.

This first cowrite led to some success and more opportunity.  While “Ring On The Bar” hasn’t been a big hit yet, it’s been recorded by John Pierce (RCA), James Dupre’ (The Voice), and has been on hold by several artists, including Brad Paisley.

But the big thing is that Byron and I went on to write several more songs together, including the 2014 Canadian Country Music Awards Single Of The Year (and my first #1) “When Your Lips Are So Close” with Gord Bamford.

Good thing I showed up with a good idea on that first day, huh?

And that brings me to the point of these two stories.  I believe that a strong idea is the most valuable thing you can bring to a cowrite (other than Kris Kristofferson).  “Well,” you might say, “how come these big-time songwriters didn’t throw out any of THEIR ideas?”  Here’s why:

A great idea is really the only thing a newer songwriter has to offer a seasoned pro.

Let’s face it, if you get to write with an established pro songwriter, what do THEY need from YOU?

They have a more valuable name in the business.  They have more connections.  They most likely bring a higher level of songwriting skill.  The only thing they need is a fresh, cool idea or melody.  Unless you’re swinging around a big fat record deal, your job is to bring in the idea or the start of a song.

If the pro has a great idea, he surely has several proven, established cowriters who could write it with him.  Why risk giving 50% of HIS idea to a songwriter who might not contribute very much?

Let me tell you, it’s more fun (and profitable) when you have a strong answer for “got any ideas?” – and I want you to be prepared when that question comes your way.  And that question doesn’t need a good answer ONLY if you get a pro cowrite.  That question comes up in EVERY cowrite.  Every time you step into the writing room, you have the opportunity to blow away your cowriter with a great nugget or idea.

Feeling like I have a stack of strong ideas allows me to walk into any cowrite with confidence.  We might not always write my idea, but I came prepared… and my cowriter knows it and appreciates it.

I want YOU to have that confidence – and those results, too.  I want your cowriters to be glad they showed up to write with you.  But I DON’T want you to have to go through years of trial, error and the occasional embarrassing cowrite like I did!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Have you had similar success or failures?  Please leave a comment!

If you want to become a songwriting pro (in how you think, write songs or do business), then a great place to start is RIGHT HERE.  I want to help you on your songwriting journey.  I’ve been in the music business for years, and I’m here to help you get the cuts – and avoid the bruises.  CLICK HERE TO START HERE.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

SWP 4

Songwriting Coaches Don’t Make You Do Push-Ups

 

First of all, what is a coach?

A coach is an experienced and trusted advisor. A songwriting coach could be a more seasoned, experienced cowriter. It could also be a publisher or PRO representative (ASCAP, SESAC, BMI, SOCAN, etc.) who takes time to meet with you. It could also be a pro-songwriter coach from NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) or GSC (Global Songwriters Connection), or Songwriting And Music Business. There are several good independent coaches out there, too.

A quality coach can help you get where you want to go more effectively and efficiently- if you’re willing to learn. Here are five specific ways songwriters can benefit from a coaching relationship.

1. Your coach knows things you don’t.

He may or may not have some #1s to his credit. He may or may not have a song on the charts this week. But the important thing is that he has been down the road ahead of you and can point the way. He’s seen more, learned more, and accomplished more than you have (yet). He can help accelerate your learning curve and avoid some of the pitfalls.

2. Your coach is not your mom.

A coach doesn’t have to see you at Thanksgiving or worry about the quality of the nursing home you’ll choose for her. Therefore, while a quality coach will not be mean, she has the freedom to be honest about your writing- as she sees it. She also doesn’t know your backstory. This means your writing has to stand on it’s own- singing about Jenny you dated in high school means ONLY what the song says. Your coach can’t fill in the gaps from your shared experience- your coach won’t know that Jenny was Prom Queen unless your song tells her.

3. It’s good practice.

If you want to get songs recorded on a professional level, you’re going to have to get comfortable throwing your babies into the real world. It can be scary and frustrating, but it’s something you need to get used to. A quality coach is a safe place to get that professional feedback. It’s a step into the music business where you’ll be challenged and have to toughen up. But it’s also safe because being “just okay” or even “bad” doesn’t close the door to them in the future. Your coach doesn’t expect you to be professional-level, and it’s not about, “Well, did you bring me a hit today?”

4. A coach is a potential entry point into the music business.

If you want to be a professional writer, you won’t get there alone. You need a network of relationships in the business, and a coach is a great start. A coach might recommend potential cowriters or publishers. He or she can be your champion- especially at places like NSAI or GSC. A coach might even write with you. Eventually. (But you should never be the one to mention it first.)  None of this is guaranteed, and when you sign up with a coach, do not expect it.  But if you EARN it, it MIGHT happen.

5. A songwriting coach won’t make you do push-ups.

I hate push-ups, and thankfully… no matter how bad my songs were… I’ve never had one of my songwriting coaches say, “drop and give me 20.”  So, there’s that.

Coaching has had a profound impact on my songwriting. There were coaches I only met with now and then (and sometimes only once). These included guys like Chad Green and Ralph Murphy at ASCAP. It also includes publisher Clay Myers, who gave such blunt, honest and challenging feedback that I wanted to throat-punch him 10 minutes into our first meeting… and wanted to write for him 30 minutes later.

It includes my songpluggers- Mike Doyle, Jesse Frasure and Scot Sherrod at Major Bob Music, Sam Ramage at RPM Music, and Paul Compton at Writers Infinity. These guys wouldn’t just pitch my songs. They encouraged me when I was down, they celebrated our victories, and they challenged me to write better.

Are there songwriting (or other) coaches who have made an impact in your life or on your writing? Give them some love in the comments!

Coaching can make a big positive difference in your songwriting. But let’s face it, even the best, most knowledgable songwriting coach in the world won’t do you any good if you’re not willing to do the work it takes to implement their suggestions and rise to their challenges. Seeking out a coach and then ignoring their advice only annoys the coach and wastes your time. Don’t do that, okay?

But, if you ARE ready to get some coaching, and you ARE ready to do the work, I have a cool opportunity for you. It’s called The C4 Experience, or C4X. It’s a series of workshops in January and February in 2016. What does “C4” stand for?

Creative
Commercial
Coaching
Community

The C4 Experience is about celebrating your creative spirit and sharpening your commercial songwriting, guided by expert coaching and encouraged by a supportive community.

Click on the image below or CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE!

c4x

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

A Pro Songwriter’s Team

Man vs Row

Songwriting is a team sport. I’ve said that a thousand times if I’ve said it once. But, until now, I don’t guess I’ve written about who makes up a pro songwriter’s team. Well, here ya go.

Not all of these members are necessary for every songwriter at every career stage. Some are only needed when money is being generated from your songs. So don’t get overwhelmed- you don’t have to find all these folks today. Also, this list is for pro songwriters or those who want to make money. If you just want to write good songs, pick and choose accordingly.

1. The Cowriters.

There are very, very few songwriters who turn pro (and stay that way) who are exclusively solo writers. Your cowriters help keep you fresh and break you out of creative ruts and stale habits. They also provide song ideas so you don’t have to come up with all your own ideas. Cowriters provide creative strengths to compliment your weaknesses (lyrics for your melodies, etc.) They share valuable information (who’s cutting, what they want, who’s about to get a record deal, etc.). They (and their publishers) help pitch your songs. They provide political advantages- writing with the artist, the producer, or with someone in a powerful publishing company.

Team Sport

2. The Songpluggers.

If you want cuts, somebody has to be out there actively pitching your songs and getting them heard by folks who can say “yes.” Oftentimes, this is done by a music publisher, who has at least one songplugger on staff. Many pros also pitch their songs themselves. I’m an “all hands on deck” kinda guy, so I like to have both when I can. People who might plug your songs: you, your publisher, a (legit) independent songplugger, your cowriters, your cowriters’ songpluggers. If nobody is plugging your songs, nobody will hear them. If nobody hears your songs, nobody will cut them.

3. The PROs.

Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) are basically companies who collect and distribute airplay royalties for publishers and songwriters. There are three PROs in the United States- ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Every other country / territory has one. If you’re blessed to get some airplay, you and your song won’t get a dime of airplay money if you (and it) aren’t a member of a PRO. That’s the big service they offer. Other benefits include networking and educational opportunities. EVERY money-making pro must have a PRO.

4. The Recorders.

All the songplugging in the world isn’t gonna do you much good if all your demos / recordings sound terrible. There’s just too much competition and too many quality demos out there for an A&R person to do the work to hear through a bad recording. They just don’t have to. Unless you’re an established hit songwriter with a good track record, they’ll just trash it and move on to a recording that sounds like it was done by a pro. It’s great if you have the musician and production chops to get good sound on your own. But most songwriters don’t have that, so it needs to be outsourced. Maybe your cowriters can perform this function, or maybe you hire a track guy or some studio musicians. I hesitated to list them as part of your team since they’re hired guns… but getting quality recordings is so important, I couldn’t keep them off the list.

5. The Administrators.

Somebody better be watching the money. Your administrator’s are the folks that make sure your songs are licensed properly by the record labels, the copyright forms are sent in and that your royalties make it (properly and promptly) from the record labels to the songwriters. This function is usually done by the publisher, but you can also hire an admin firm for a percentage of what they collect on your behalf. For example, my Major Bob Music catalog is partly administered in-house and partly by The Harry Fox Agency. My personal publishing company, Cowboy Chords Music, outsources my admin to Bluewater Music. They handle my licensing and royalty collections for a percentage of the money they collect.

6. The Sharpeners.

These are the folks who help you sharpen your skills, both on the artistic and business sides of songwriting. This may include cowriters who inspire and challenge you to do your best, it may include NSAI, Global Songwriters Connection, Man vs. Row, song evaluators, and coaches. It may be your publisher or songplugger. It may be a writer’s rep at a PRO or a publisher who will listen to your songs and give feedback. The Sharpeners are hugely important for amateurs and turning pro and for seasoned pros trying to keep current and to adapt as the commercial market changes. These are the folks who will tell us the truth and challenge us, even when it’s unpleasant.

7. The Believers.

Who’s going to pick you up when the biz knocks you down? When you’re lost in doubt? You’ll find The Believers in several of the other categories- The Cowriters, The Pluggers, and sometimes The PROS and The Sharpeners. The Believers may also include folks outside of music- your family and friends. This isn’t just for the aspiring songwriter. We ALL need The Believers. But the most important believer will always be one person. Yourself.

Rise

There ya go. A pro songwriter’s team. Like I said earlier, you may not need all these folks right now, depending on where you are in your career. But as you climb that mountain, you’ll add more and more of them.

Knowing you need a team (and who is on it) is an important part of being a pro.  If you want to become a pro, you need to think like a pro.  In my FREE e-book, “THINK LIKE A PRO SONGWRITER,” I not only reveal several of the mindsets which separate the pro songwriter from the amateur, but also…

  1. How to get on a music publisher’s radar
  2. How the pros know who is looking for songs
  3. Six simple ways to make your songs more commercial
  4. And more!

To get your FREE, INSTANT download of “THINK LIKE A PRO SONGWRITER,” just click on the image below, or CLICK HERE!

think like a pro songwriter 3D

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

Songwriter, are you working IN your business, or ON your business?

SWP 4

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

Sometimes, I get so busy working IN my songwriting business that I forget to work ON my songwriting business.

Let me give you an example.

When I signed my publishing deal with Major Bob Music in early 2005 (my first publishing deal), I was an unknown songwriter who had an Alan Jackson single climbing the charts. “Monday Morning Church” would eventually land in the Top 5, I would be nominated for the Music Row Breakthrough Writer of the Year, the song would be one of only 12 voted that year by NSAI’s pro writers as a “Song I Wish I’d Written,” and it would also win an ASCAP Airplay Award. 2005 was an incredible year.

How did I respond to this blessing? I wrote my backside off!

I dove headlong into writing full-time. That year, I finished 102 songs. I wrote like crazy. That’s pretty much all I did. Write, write, write, rewrite, and occasionally demo.

And it was a mistake.

I spent too much time working IN my business and not enough time working ON my business.

Working IN my business included scheduling cowrites, songwriting, rewriting, and demoing. And I did plenty of all of that. And those aren’t bad things. After all, nobody else can write my songs for me. And without songs, I have no business.  Still, though…

I wish I had worked ON my business more.

I work ON my business when I’m doing the higher-level strategic thinking and planning that make sure that my activities are the right activities. Working ON my business is doing those activities which will give my songs a better chance to succeed. And I had every chance to succeed.

Like I said, 2005 was an awesome year, and it opened a lot of doors for me. Additionally, the guys at Major Bob asked who I’d like to write with, and they helped book some cowrites for me. They also pitched my songs and set up some demo sessions. All good things.

But if I had it to do over, I would’ve spent more time:

1. …having Major Bob introduce me to A&R reps and producers around the Row so I could start building relationships with them, and pitching my own songs.

2. …investing in my craft and business knowledge. Sure, I learned by writing a lot and writing with a lot of better writers, but I should have sought out some great, high-level mentors to accelerate my learning curve on both the craft and biz sides of songwriting. I should have asked a lot more questions over a lot more lunches.

3. …seeking out strategic cowriting relationships. I mostly jumped at every cowrite that came my way without much consideration. That kept me so busy that I didn’t spend as much time SEEKING OUT my best cowriters.

4. …building the “Baxter Brand.” While the Major Bob crew flew my flag around the Row, I should’ve done a lot more flag waving myself.

Working ON my business more would’ve helped me write songs that were more well-written, more marketable, and heard by more decision-makers, sooner.

Yes, my songs got better because I wrote a ton (and, yes, they needed to get better, so writing a lot was a good thing). My network slowly expanded organically. And I eventually started pitching my songs. And these are things that have brought my best results.

Working ON my business would’ve gotten me there faster.

So what about YOU? Do you need to spend more time working ON your music business? What activities are the ones which will accelerate your success? And what are the activities that are fun, but are working IN your business? I’d love to hear your comments!

God Bless,

Brent

A GIFT FROM BRENT

Thanks to those of you who have already downloaded my book, Think Like A Pro Songwriter! It gives you insight into valuable things like “how to connect to a music publisher,” “how songwriters know who’s looking for songs” and more!  You can get it FOR FREE at www.GiftFromBrent.com or by clicking on the image below. Enjoy!